DM CONTEMPORARY NYC is honored to present an exhibition paying tribute to the late American Abstract Artist, Babe Shapiro (1927 – 2016), focusing particularly on his paintings from the seventies and eighties. Babe Shapiro: A Tribute, will open on Friday, April 29th, 2016 with a reception at the gallery from 6:00 to 8:00 pm to celebrate the artist’s life and work. The work will remain on view through June 11th, 2016.
Babe Shapiro’s artistic career spanned nearly six decades. He was a prolific artist who continued to paint, experiment and explore materials, and be active in the studio until last year when his health deteriorated due to a degenerative illness which was the cause of his death in March 2016. While DM CONTEMPORARY has exhibited Shapiro’s work on paper on numerous occasions in solo and group shows, the large-scale monochromatic acrylic on canvas paintings, from the seventies and eighties – that he is best known for – have never been exhibited at the gallery, nor have they been on anyone’s radar, surprisingly, for quite some time. And so it was fitting to dedicate the gallery space to revisit that period, since these are the paintings that showcase his signature style involving precise geometry, a meticulous painting technique, and sophisticated manipulations of tone resulting in startling optical effects – mainly the illusion of light emanating from within the paintings.
It is hoped that a closer look at these works, which look so contemporary and so relevant today as they did forty years ago, will spark interest and invite a more in-depth discovery and a meaningful re-evaluation of Babe Shapiro’s works in an art historical context.
Babe Shapiro was born, in 1927 in Newark, New Jersey. He received his MFA from Hunter College where he studied under Robert Motherwell. His work was first recognized in 1958 by James Johnson Sweeney, director of the Guggenheim Museum at the time, who brought it to the attention of the Stable Gallery in New York City, where he was included in a group show, and where he had his first major solo show in 1962. His work has been exhibited widely in both solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, and is included in private collections, as well as in over 50 public and museum collections. Shapiro’s work is in the permanent collections of The Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY, The Baltimore Museum of Art, MD, The Cooper-Hewitt Museum, NY, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU, MI, The Newark Museum, NJ, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, among others. In 1974, Shapiro founded the Mount Royal Graduate School of Art, at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and served as the Director for 25 years. As an educator, Shapiro guided, encouraged, and influenced the careers of over 200 artists. In 2000 MICA awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts and appointed him Director Emeritus of the Mount Royal School. Babe Shapiro died March 6th, 2016 at his home in Tribeca, NYC. He was 88.